Boston Red Sox Rumors
Now that it's clear Nelson Cruz won't be back, it's unclear who the Rangers will use as their designated hitter against lefties, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The Rangers still had interest in Cruz, Grant writes, noting that, in addition to the qualifying offer, they made at least one offer that exceeded the $8MM Cruz ended up taking from the Orioles. That leaves them with a variety of options to play DH against lefties, but none manager Ron Washington likes very much: Mitch Moreland is a lefty, Michael Choice doesn't have enough experience for Washington's taste, and Washington would prefer to keep the Rangers' spare catcher (Geovany Soto or J.P. Arencibia, depending on who isn't starting) available on the bench.
- With Cruz off the market, Grant, in a separate article, believes now is the time for the Rangers to extend manager Ron Washington. Grant also opines players tagged with qualifying offers are going to think more seriously about accepting them in light of Cruz's surprisingly small contract.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks new minor-league signee Andrew Bailey can help them in the late innings, but probably not until September, Jack Curry of the YES Network tweets. The former Athletics and Red Sox closer had labrum surgery last July.
- The Red Sox will try Mike Carp out at a new position this spring, Alex Speier of WEEI.com tweets. While Spring Training experiments like these aren't uncommon and often have little long-term impact, a bit of added versatility might change Carp's outlook with the Red Sox, particularly if he can play third, where the Red Sox are less settled than they are elsewhere. Carp hit .296/.362/.523 in 243 plate appearances last season, but the Red Sox already have plenty of talent at first base, left field and DH, which has led to speculation that Carp could be a trade candidate.
- Scott Boras blames the Blue Jays' lack of activity in the free agent market on its ownership, Rogers Communications, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "There is no one who has the asset base of Rogers," said Boras. "They’re a car with a huge engine that is impeded by a big corporate stop sign . . . a successful and committed ownership that needs to give their baseball people financial flexibility." GM Alex Anthopoulos denied Boras' assertion telling Rosenthal, "Our ownership has been outstanding and given us all the resources we need." The Blue Jays' payroll is expected to exceed $130MM this season.
- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters, including Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, Justin Smoak will be the team's first baseman as long he performs. This means McClendon expects new acquistions Logan Morrison and Corey Hart to man the corner outfield spots and DH.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow acknowledged internal discussions about a contract extension for catcher Jason Castro have taken place, reports the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. No offer, however, has been discussed with Castro.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Nelson Cruz isn't a popular figure in some circles for his PED history, but Nick Markakis won't hold it against him. "It doesn't change my opinion toward anything,'' the Orioles outfielder said, according to Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. "I got to be a teammate, and no matter if you disagree or agree with your teammates, they are still your teammates. He’s going to be welcome here and we are going to play as one. That’s for sure." More out of the AL East..
- Chris Capuano was nearly traded to the Red Sox three years ago when they were desperate for someone to win a game in the final week of the regular season, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. Ultimately, however, Boston couldn't reach a deal with the Mets. “(The Mets) actually knew about it earlier, but kind of waited until the last minute to tell me so it wouldn’t be a distraction. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about it. It was just a couple-day conversation that didn’t end up happening, but I was excited at the prospect of pitching for the Red Sox," said the veteran.
- David Ortiz has few precedents when looking at what an extension might look like, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Speier looked at players who had ten or more seasons in an organization who signed deals that covered at least their age 39 seasons within a year of their free agency. That short list includes Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, and Mariano Rivera.
- The Yankees have questions but no major concerns heading into spring training, writes Barry Federovitch of the Star-Ledger. Among the question marks, however, will be whether Masahiro Tanaka can make the transition to four or five days’ rest.
- Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger spoke with Yankees reliever Matt Thornton, who inked a two-year, $7MM deal this offseason, about what he expects his role to be with his new team.
While Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says he's "comfortable" with his club's current rotation candidates, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal is skeptical. If so, Anthopoulos' thinking has evolved significantly since September, Rosenthal writes, when he identified the Jays' rotation as the team's "most glaring hole" and "most glaring area we need to address." Anthopoulos reportedly considered trades for David Price, Derek Holland and Brett Anderson, and expressed interest in free agents Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett. However, a deal never materialized, and the Jays' AL East competitors have upgraded in the meantime. Here's more out of the division:
- Within the same column, Rosenthal cites the Mariners and Rangers as potential suitors for Santana, who could also avoid the draft pick compensation issue by waiting until after the June draft to sign. According to a Rosenthal tweet, Santana prefers that option to settling for a contract in the range of Nelson Cruz's one-year, $8MM deal with the Orioles.
- MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes that by not adding a major rotation piece, the Jays are betting on better luck with injuries and the development of young players. A rotation upgrade "does not appear to be on the horizon," according to Castrovince. Earlier this week, Anthopoulos told reporters that the club would like to sign a starter, but won't do so "at all costs."
- Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts says he's well aware of rumors that Stephen Drew could return to the club, Mike Petraglia of WEEI.com reports. "You hear it every day, especially you media guys talk about it a lot," the infielder commented. Bogaerts figures to grab the Sox's starting shortstop job if Drew doesn't return.
SATURDAY 12:36pm: Capuano can earn as much as $500K in roster bonuses, $1.25MM for starts (with bonuses beginning at 12 starts) and $1MM for innings pitched (with bonuses beginning at 70 IP), CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam tweets.
10:31am: Capuano has passed his physical, so his deal is now complete, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. Ryan Dempster has officially been placed on the disabled list to clear space on the Red Sox' roster, the Providence Journal's Tim Britton tweets.
FRIDAY: WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports that Capuano's incentives are tied to games started. He adds that the Sox are expected to clear room on the 40-man roster by officially placing Dempster on the restricted list (Twitter links).
THURSDAY: The Red Sox have agreed to a contract with free agent pitcher Chris Capuano, reports Ron Chimelis of the Springfield Republican (hat tip to his colleague, Jason Mastrodonato). Capuano receives a $2.25MM guarantee, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). He can earn bonuses that would increase the value to as much as $5MM.
The 35-year-old Capuano, who is preresented by Moye Sports Associates, must pass a physical to complete deal. If he does, it appears that he will not be in line for a regular rotation spot, but should be first up in case another arm is needed in that role. If he does indeed start the year off working as the long man in the pen, it would mark just the second time in his nine-year career that Capuano has not featured primarily as a starter. (In 2010 with the Brewers, he started nine games and made 15 relief appearances.)
Over his career, Capuano has proven a sturdy, if unspectacular, big league arm. Though slowed by injuries last year, he logged 198 1/3 innings of 3.72 ERA ball for the Dodgers in 2012. Last year, in twenty starts and four appearances from the pen, Capuano threw 105 2/3 innings and ended up with a 4.26 ERA. Though he logged just 6.9 K/9 last year, the lowest level since his rookie year, Capuano also held down the free passes with a 2.0 BB/9 mark. The resulting 3.38 K:BB ratio, along with a 46.4% ground-ball rate, left him looking good in the eyes of advanced stats like FIP (3.55), xFIP (3.67), and SIERA (3.87).
Though he carries the baggage of two Tommy John procedures and a series of bumps and bruises last season, Capuano looks to come at a solid rate. His new deal lands in much the same realm as fellow southpaw Paul Maholm, who got a slightly lower base salary ($1.5MM) but greater overall incentive package (he would max out at $6.5MM) with the Dodgers. Another lefty, Bruce Chen, got $4.25MM from the Royals. The younger and historically healthier Jason Vargas landed a much bigger deal, getting $32MM over four years from Kansas City.
From Boston's perspective, it has essentially swapped out Dempster (and the $13.25MM he was owed) for Capuano and his much cheaper price tag. While retaining its depth entering the season, then, the club should have additional space to take on salary if mid-season additions become desirable.
- The Mets offered Drew a salary in the neighborhood of $9.5MM, the same amount Drew made last year, but Drew rejected it. The Mets remain the team with the most need for Drew's talents.
- The Red Sox have not made a new offer to Drew since Ryan Dempster decided to take 2014 off and forfeit his $13.25MM salary for the year.
- The Pirates have "spoken about Drew," but are currently more concerned with finding an upgrade at first base. They currently have youngster Jordy Mercer penciled in at shortstop, and would have to sacrifice the No. 24 overall pick in the draft to sign Drew.
- The Blue Jays could look to Drew for help at second base.
- Heyman also notes that the qualifying offer, which has dramatically reduced the market for Drew, Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz and other free agents, also has mostly helped big-payroll teams, as the Yankees and Red Sox have extended nearly half of all qualifying offers.
Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino spoke with reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. today and covered a number of topics, one of them being the impending retirement of commissioner Bud Selig. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that Lucchino "challenges the premise" that Selig is 100 percent certain to retire following the season. Lucchino says he is one of multiple executives who will pressure Selig to stay in office beyond January 2015. Nightengale quotes Lucchino: "He knows that [the] pressures for him to stay will be so great, that he will have to accede to them." (All Twitter links)
More from the CEO of the reigning World Series champions...
- Lucchino confirmed that the club has met with David Ortiz's camp since the beginning of Spring Training to discuss a potential extension, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Lucchino called Ortiz "one of the most important faces in baseball" and said the club was going to give Big Papi's extension "the priority it deserves." He praised Ortiz for his leadership not only among teammates but also in the Boston community.
- Also from Britton's piece, Lucchino called Jon Lester's comments about taking a discount to stay with the Red Sox "one of the highlights of the offseason" and noted that a Lester extension is something Red Sox brass will address in Spring Training as well.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier writes that Lucchino cringes when people lump the Red Sox and Yankees together, calling the two teams "very different animals." Lucchino points out that even though the Red Sox invested heavily in last offseason's free agent market, they only went to three guaranteed years on one deal (Shane Victorino), where the Yankees went to three-plus years four times this offseason alone. "They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents," he told reporters.
- Also within Speier's article, Lucchino does give way to the possibility that the Red Sox could make future splashes of that significance in free agency, however it would be more as an exception to the rule than the start of a trend.
Ubaldo Jimenez was introduced today by the Orioles, saying that he is looking forward to putting the "nightmare" of past inconsistency in the rearview mirror. Executive VP Dan Duqutte said that Jimenez was attractive to Baltimore because "he's been a proven, solid, dependable pitcher," and explained that he saw potential for new pitching coach Dave Wallace to help Jimenez maintain his form from the second half of last year. MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli has a full transcript from the presser.
Here's more from the AL East:
- Orioles young star Manny Machado is scheduled for a key visit with his doctor in the middle of March which could determine when he'll be ready to suit up, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). If he is cleared to play at that point, the hope is that Machado would be prepared for game action within the first few weeks of the season.
- Machado tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that being ready for Opening Day is last on his list of priorities: "That’s at the bottom of my list. It’s not even on my list, to be honest," says Machado. Instead, Machado and the Orioles are focused on making sure he's 100 percent when he takes the field. Says Machado: "When I’m ready, I’m going to be ready. And everybody’s going to know it. And that’s when I’m going to be out there with the team, whether it’s Opening Day or sometime in April."
- Red Sox DH David Ortiz and agent Fern Cuza met with club oficials today -- including representatives from the ownership group -- to discuss his contract status, reports WEEI.com's Alex Speier.
- Ortiz has not been shy about discussing his contract situation publicly, and the team has likewise consistently indicated a willingness to talk. Speier breaks things down from a baseball perspective, arguing that Ortiz has in fact expressed a willingness to give his team a legitimate discount. The notion of adding another year to his current contract at about the same annual rate ($15MM) is valuable, says Speier, because it keeps him off of an open market that could well pay him more. Though he is aging, Ortiz's bat has shown little sign of slowing, and he would surely draw real interest from a power-sapped free agent market. Even if the slugger takes a step back, says Speier, Boston's payroll situation makes the downside scenario a reasonable risk to bear.
- As for those payroll considerations, Red Sox principal owner John Henry said yesterday that the luxury tax may not be a firm line for the club going forward, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. Though the club has "learned from" its experiences with major deals in the past, Henry said that the team is always looking for ways to leverage its "big-revenue" capabilities. Though he was somewhat unclear as to his reasoning, Henry said that "there's some reason to believe that [staying under the luxury threshold] may not be as important as we thought a couple years ago."
- Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano is considering retiring after the season, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. The 38-year-old said it will all come down to whether he feels healthy, but acknowledged the possibility that he could join teammate Derek Jeter in making this his last go-round. Soriano, who produced a .255/.302/.489 line with 34 home runs and 18 stolen bases in 626 plate appearances last year, will be playing out the final year of the eight-year, $136MM deal he signed with the Cubs back in November of 2006.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Red Sox are likely to sign free agent hurler Chris Capuano, with a deal potentially announced later today or tomorrow, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. GM Ben Cherington said today that the team "may be close to bringing another pitcher to camp," Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports on Twitter.
Reports of Boston's interest in the 35-year-old southpaw arose on Tuesday, after it was announced that Ryan Dempster would sit out the season. Capuano struggled with injuries late last year, and ultimately ended up finishing his tenure with the Dodgers spending time throwing from the pen. That probably suits the Sox just fine, however, as the team is said to be interested in adding a swingman who can contribute innings in either capacity.
Capuano has worked from the rotation over much of his career, making 209 starts out of 238 total appearances. Across the last two years with Los Angeles, he logged a cumulative 3.91 ERA in 304 innings, with 7.2 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9.
For the last year or two, Nick Markakis has been vocal about how important it would be to spend his entire career with one organization, and the outfielder tells Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun how he hopes his contract year will help carry the Orioles to a championship and, potentially, convince the team to keep him in the fold. "In a perfect world, I'd like to [stay here],'' Markakis said. "A lot of people play this game for the wrong reasons. A lot of people play it where the money is. I get a bigger satisfaction being with the same team your whole career....To be able to do that would be a pretty cool experience. It would be something special to me." The O's have a $17.5MM option on Markakis for 2015 that seems a bit too expensive to exercise even if Markakis does rebound from his career-low numbers last season, though the two sides could work out another multiyear deal.
Here's more from around the AL East...
- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that while he didn't plan on having a payroll in the $80MM range for the coming season, the opportunity was there for the Rays to sign Grant Balfour and re-sign James Loney.
- Sternberg noted that extending a star like David Price is "more difficult now than it was in the past, given the numbers. There's been inflation.'' That said, Sternberg also "wouldn't say it's likely" that this is Price's last year in Tampa. "You just can't make decisions like that this far in advance, and we're trying to give the team as big of a chance as we can this year without sacrificing our future as well," Sternberg said. "There's the opportuniuty of other players, there's the expense that's involved in it, but we're...a little enamored with the possibilities of what we can do, and what he brings."
- The Blue Jays haven't made many roster moves this winter but GM Alex Anthopoulos tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that he expects the Jays to improve simply by avoiding some of the injuries and misfortune that plagued the club last season. “Sometimes you sit there and say, ‘We won 74 games, when everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong,’” Anthopoulos said. “So this year, what happens if we just have a little bit of luck? I can understand the skepticism about our team, absolutely, coming off the year we’re coming off. But I just don’t think it’s a stretch to expect improvement out of a lot of these guys this year, simply because the floor was so low.”
- The Blue Jays' second base options project to generate only 0.4 WAR in 2014, Fangraphs' Mike Petriello notes, and he explores a few trade possibilities that could upgrade Toronto at the keystone position.
- With the Red Sox enjoying huge revenues and big drops in payroll obligations in 2015 and 2016, ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes argues that the time is right to extend David Ortiz. The slugger's contract negotiations have generated some bad publicity in recent years, so Edes suggests that Ortiz could receive a club option in perpetuity, a la Tim Wakefield's contract with the Sox.
- Red Sox limited partner Michael Gordon isn't a well-known figure to most fans, but WEEI.com's Alex Speier profiles the man who has quietly become a more influential voice within the team's ownership group over the last few years.
The latest on the 2013 World Series champs...
- David Ortiz told John Tomase of the Boston Herald that he's sick of the negative public response when he discusses his desire for a new contract (though he did so with far more colorful language, as Tomase notes). As far as how long he wants to continue his career, Big Papi offered the following: "When you put up numbers like I’m putting up, who’s thinking about retiring, know what I’m saying? People keep on asking me, how long do you want to play? When are you going to retire? Dude, look at my numbers. I ain’t planning on retiring right now. When I slow down, then I’ll retire."
- Ortiz told WEEI.com's Alex Speier (Twitter link) that if no deal is done prior to his next venture into free agency following this season: "...then we'll be talking about a real contract."
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe outlines many of the reasons that make it logical for the Red Sox to be interested in re-signing Stephen Drew, and then explains why, in spite of those reasons, they should let him walk. Abraham opines that Xander Bogaerts needs to be given a chance to maximize his value at shortstop, that Will Middlebrooks' 2012 and late 2013 flashes of excellence make him worthy of another chance, and that the value of an additional draft pick when Drew signs elsewhere outweigh the benefit of bringing Drew back to Boston.
- Francisco Cordero had interest from both the Orioles and Marlins, but he chose the Red Sox after admiring their 2013 World Series run while watching at home in the Dominican Republic, Speier writes. Cordero, who says he dropped 30 pounds this offseason, doesn't have an opt-out clause in his deal, but Speier writes that he and the team have an understanding where Cordero will be allowed out of his contract if he's not going to make Boston's roster and has an opportunity with another team. Cordero said he felt like a kid again when he put on his Red Sox jersey and feels that he didn't join a team, he joined a family.